Celtic’s failure to adequately replace Kieran Tierney, as well as find a solution at right-back, was laid bare against Rangers today.
If it wasn’t Diego Laxalt getting rinsed by Joe Aribo or Nathan Patterson, how about Jonjoe Kenny misplacing passes and sticking one in his own net?
Yet it shouldn’t have been so. Celtic have raked in a gargantuan amount of money by our standards for full-backs over the last couple of years.
The decision-makers, scouting department, former manager and executive team have failed to find suitable replacements.
Replacing Tierney mismanaged
Celtic sold Tierney to Arsenal in 2019 for a club-record fee of £25m [BBC]. Boli Bolingoli had already arrived at the club, ostensibly as Tierney’s replacement. The club would later invest in Kilmarnock defender Greg Taylor.
It quite quickly became apparent that Taylor had a lot of improving to do. It didn’t take long for serious concerns to be raised about Bolingoli either. Even if the Belgian hadn’t committed a pandemic-related faux pas, he arguably wouldn’t have been up to it this season anyway.
Faced with that dilemma, Celtic would commit to a loan deal for Diego Laxalt – like so many loan deals we’ve seen in the past that haven’t worked out. From Edson Braafheid to Jeremy Toljan, there’s usually a good reason why clubs are offloading talents on loan. Principally because they aren’t performing but also because no one really wants to buy them.
Surely when selling one of our best talents, we should have earmarked a significant chunk of his fee into finding a proper alternative? Who thought Bolingoli could hold a candle to Tierney?
The same mistake repeated
Likewise, on the right flank, Celtic have failed to replace who has gone before.
That goes all the way back to Mikael Lustig. Although he was clearly declining at Celtic, we need a player in there who was at least as good as him at his peak.
We won a watch with Jeremie Frimpong, who burst onto the scene with fresh-faced enthusiasm after a cheap move from Manchester City. Then, unforgivably, Celtic repeated the post-Tierney mistake.
Frimpong made it clear he wanted to leave for Bayer Leverkusen, and Celtic raked in a significant £11.5m fee for the player in January. [The Scottish Sun]
Yes, it was concluded quite late in the month, but it certainly wasn’t at the last minute, and the youngster had apparently made it quite clear he was up for an exit well before his departure.
Yet, all Celtic could muster was another underwhelming loan move from the fringes of a mid-table side, this time Everton.
Maintaining success requires exceptional scouting or solid investment
I understand it’s not as easy as receiving this £36m and spending that again on an incoming player. Wages have to be considered. Realities of the market are difficult for Celtic to navigate.
However, if we wanted to maintain standards and success, then a higher level of investment had to be made in these positions.
Either it’s a complete failure in scouting that the players who have arrived in the wake of Tierney, Lustig and Frimpong aren’t good enough, or it’s a failure of that investment. Were the funds made properly available for these positions? Is this really the best Celtic can do?
For me, we tried to cheap our way out.
When you consider the downgrades in key positions, it’s really no surprise Celtic are where they are. The club deserved this season. The fans didn’t.